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Chilling Details Revealed At Bond Hearing For SC Mom Accused Of Killing 3-Year-Old

The judge denied her bond…

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Ariel Robinson

The Simpsonville, South Carolina mother accused of killing her 3-year-old foster daughter Victoria ‘Tori’ Rose Smith was denied bond Friday by a Greenville County judge.

Ariel Shnise Robinson, who is charged with homicide by child abuse, and her attorney Willliam Innes Bouton appeared before Judge Letitia Verdin Friday in a virtual hearing to request bond.

Verdin said she denied the request based on the seriousness of the charges. She said Ariel Robinson was a flight risk should be considered a danger to herself and the community.

It was revealed in court Friday that Ariel and her husband Jerry Austin Robinson, who is also charged with homicide by child abuse, had not officially adopted Tori yet — she was technically in the process of fostering Tori and her two brothers until the adoption, which was supposed to be finalized last month.

At the bond hearing, Victoria’s biological mother Casey Phares asked the judge to deny bond and said the family is devastated about their daughter’s death.

Click below to see the full video from the hearing.

Details Revealed In The Case

At the hearing, the prosecution revealed chilling details of what happened on January 14 in the hours before Tori’s death — details that were redacted in the police report.

The state said that Ariel Robinson told firefighters that Tori had drown by drinking too much water when they arrived on scene on January 14.

Jerry Robinson placed the chilling 911 call around 2 p.m. on January 14. He said his daughter drank a lot of water and they were trying to do CPR on her.

After firefighters arrived on scene, they saw bruises all over Tori’s body — on her ears, her face, and up and down both legs, Christy Sustakovitch, prosecutor for the state, said.

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When Ariel Robinson spoke to police on scene, she said Tori had thrown up the night before when they went to church, according to Sustakovitch. Robinson told police she had no real issues when she went to bed on January 13.

According to Ariel Robinson’s account, Tori was eating the next morning when Jerry Robinson gave her water. Tori told her parents that her stomach hurt and that she was cold.

Ariel and Jerry Robinson were the only ones at the home at the time. The four other boys were at school, Sustakovitch said at the hearing.

Ariel Robinson gave Tori a heated blanket and at some point, Tori started choking, according to the state.

Then, Ariel Robinson said she did the heimlich maneuver on Tori, according to the prosecution.

When that didn’t work, Ariel Robinson pressed on Tori’s stomach and told her husband to call 911. She said they did CPR until firefighters arrived on scene and took over.

When asked about the bruises, Ariel Robinson told police that she was pushing too hard while trying to revive Tori.

Police then asked about the bruises on Tori’s head and legs. Ariel Robinson blamed Tori’s biological brother and said he had anger issues, according to the state.

Ariel Robinson and Victoria Rose Smith days before her death

Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith was pronounced dead at the hospital on January 14. The medical examiner said she died of blunt-force trauma.

The detective working the case later asked the brother’s principal about Ariel’s allegation. The principal said the boy was a happy child with no signs of physical abuse toward anyone.

After Jerry and Ariel Robinson were arrested on Jan. 19, Jerry made a statement to authorities, the state said at the hearing.

Jerry Austin Robinson told authorities he had never hurt Tori, according to the state. He said Ariel Robinson beat the 3-year-old with a belt, paddle, and other objects.

Ariel Robinson’s husband said he was outside when the beating occurred on January 14, but when he came inside and saw Tori’s body, he looked at his wife and said “you’ve gone too far.”

Jerry Robinson said that they bathed Tori in epsom salts and he went to the store to get medicine for the bruising around 1 p.m. before he returned and called 911, according to his statement to authorities.

Ariel Robinson did not speak at the hearing. Her attorney argued that she has a clean criminal record, is a lifelong resident of South Carolina, and has a master’s degree from Clemson University. She was a public school teacher until 2019 and a member of the PTA, he said.

Ariel Robinson Bond Hearing

However, the judge did not think Ariel Robinson’s clean record was enough to convince her to grant bond.

Jerry Robinson, 34, requested a bond hearing last week, but withdrew his request earlier this week.

National news

In the wake of the tragedy, Smith’s biological family has publicly pushed for South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) reform.

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition asking state lawmakers to reform SCDSS — a scandal scarred agency whose failures are now in the national spotlight.

Ariel Robinson is best known for winning season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network in August. 

Ariel Robinson faces life in prison for the charge.

To report child abuse in South Carolina, please call 1-888-CARE-4-US or use this online portal.

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